By Joe Sebastiani, Ashland Nature Center Manager
We were walking through the dense Terra Firme Jungle south of the Napo River in eastern Ecuador. My group stopped in front of me to photograph a stunning red flower. I wasn’t paying too much attention to them, but to my surprise, in an instant they all started screaming! In a flash, some kind of furry animal was headed straight towards me, and it was the size of a small dog. Not only was my group screaming, but I screamed as well! The animal did not see me, and in its fright flight, skidded and slammed right into my leg. By the dusky smell it gave off, we knew we had scared a White-lipped Peccary just off the trail.
This is just one of hundreds of memories that come forth when recalling the amazing DNS trip to Ecuador in November of 2014. Joined by our tour leader Forrest Rowland, we toured the country on a birding trip of a lifetime. You might remember Forrest as the first Hawk Watcher at the Ashland Hawk Watch in 2007. He spent the next two seasons as the Hawk Watcher at the Cape Henlopen Hawk Watch. Now, Forrest is the manager for birding tours in the western hemisphere for Rockjumper Tours, and is an Ecuadorian bird expert.
On our trip, we ventured up and down the eastern and western slopes of the Andes, and down into the Amazonian lowlands for 19 days. The focus was birding, and saw a huge selection of species in a wide spectrum of habitat types including temperate, subtropical, and tropical forest as well as high elevation Paramo grasslands up to almost 15,000 feet. That elevation was not so kind to everyone in the group and resulted in a few people who contracted temporary altitude sickness.
There are more than 1,600 species of birds in Ecuador, and we experienced 771 of them. This is a mind-numbing variety of bird species to see, and each day we traveled to new habitats where there was a whole new suite of sights, sounds, and of course birds. This, along with sightings of 25 species of mammals which included 8 monkey species made for a very special trip.
Please enjoy this 5-minute video of our trip highlights.
Top ten bird species (of the 771 that we found) voted on by the group:
1. Crested Owl 2. Torrent Duck 3. Sword-billed Hummingbird 4. Great Potoo 5. Banded Antbird 6. Andean Condor 7.Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe 8. Hoatzin 9. Wire-crested Thorntail (hummingbird) 10. Golden-headed Quetzal.
Primates and other mammals seen by the group:
White-tailed (paramo) Deer, White-lipped Peccary, Tayra, Andean Long-tailed Weasel, Olinguito (described to science in 2013), Lesser Long-nosed Bat, White-lined Sac-winged Bat, Greater Bulldog Bat, Tent-making Bat, Fishing Bat, Nine-banded Armadillo, Forest Rabbit, Lemurine Night Monkey, Spix’s Night Monkey, Red Howler Monkey, Common Wooly Monkey, White-fronted Capuchin Monkey, Common Squirrel Monkey, Dusky Titi Monkey, Napo Tamarin, Capybara, Central American Agouti, Black Agouti, Western Dwarf Squirrel, Red-tailed Squirrel.
If you are interested in traveling with the Delaware Nature Society on future trips, we are offering a trip to Costa Rica, October 25 to November 5. The $3,349 double-occupancy price is guaranteed through April 24th, so make your reservation with us soon! Receive $50 off the trip by attending a Costa Rica Preview presentation at Ashland Nature Center on April 13, 6pm. Light fare will be served as you learn more about this trip. Call (302) 239-2334 ext. 134 to register for the preview night or inquire about the Costa Rica trip.